Star Wisdom in Novalis

Here is a summary of the recent weekly Section for Literary Arts & Humanities meeting of the local group in Fair Oaks, CA. This meeting occurred on August 1, 2020 via Zoom.

Meeting Summary

Brian Gray joined us last night. Brian talked to us about the stars and guided us to an appreciation of the star wisdom in Klingsohr’s fairy tale in chapter nine of Heinrich von Ofterdingen by Novalis.

Rather than share my notes, here is a link to Brian’s Zoom presentation.

Brian has agreed to return to our group when the sun enters the sign of Virgo. That is very soon. At that time, Brian will share his knowledge and insights concerning the Birth Chart of Novalis. I will distribute the date of this presentation after Brian and I work out the calendar details for September.

A Change of Focus for our Research

We have concluded our work with Heinrich von Ofterdingen. (Hold on to your text, however.)

Next Steps

After a discussion of other possible research topics such as contemporary American poetry, the group members decided to continue with Novalis.

The next work by Novalis that the group has decided to take into consideration is Hymns to the Night. We will begin next Saturday. Here is a link to a free translation. I’m not endorsing this translation; I’m just offering it as a free resource.

Next Meeting

For our next meeting, I will muster up a bibliography and prepare some introductory comments. I’ll see if I can help us arrive at a common translation text. Suggestions? We already have spent quite a few meetings in the discussion of the biographical context of this poem, fortunately. This includes the three-hour-long presentations on Novalis to the Faust Branch in spring and Karen’s recent presentation to our Section meeting — so I think we can jump right into the literary aspects of the work.

By the way, if you read German or have access to a dual-language text, this would add pleasure to your experience. But even if you don’t read German, a dual-language text or a German text and English text side by side for comparison is fun and helpful, I think.

“One day the stars above
Shall flow in golden wine,
We will enjoy it all,
And as stars we will shine.”
— Novalis. Hymns to the Night. (1800)

“The sprightly lark’s shrill matin wakes the morn;
Grief’s sharpest thorn hard pressing on my breast,
I strive, with wakeful melody, to cheer
The sullen gloom, sweet Philomel! like thee,
And call the stars to listen… “
— Edward Young. Night Thoughts (1742)
[The Complaint: or, Night-Thoughts on Life, Death, & Immortality]

Written by Bruce Donehower
August 01, 2020